Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS - Greg Bruce


You drive through a rel­a­tive ab­sence of Auck­land to get there, which is ap­pro­pri­ate. There’s the post­mo­tor­way empti­ness, which turns into the promis­ing toy­land ghost town of res­i­den­tial Hob­sonville Point, then down a bar­ren hill, around a few turns and sud­denly you’re on the edge of the up­per reaches of the Waitem­ata Har­bour in a mas­sive carpark with very few empty parks. “There must be some­thing very good go­ing on around here,” you think to your­self, cor­rectly. You walk down to the wa­ter and there, perched on its edge is one of the most per­fectly formed cafes you will find in this city, if in­deed you would say you are still in this city, which you wouldn’t.


The menu of­fers a good but not ex­ces­sive level of culi­nary am­bi­tion, in­clud­ing a very good ka­hawai omelette with goat’s cheese ($22) an ex­cel­lent house-made baked beans with chorizo ($18) and an in­ter­est­ing and ap­peal­ingly ex­otic break­fast cheese­cake with fruit com­pote ($12). The cof­fee is ex­cel­lent. These suc­cesses put Fab­ric al­ready above 91 per cent of Auck­land brunch es­tab­lish­ments but you have to re­mem­ber you are also sit­ting out on a wa­ter­front deck in the bright spring sun­shine, sur­rounded by large quan­ti­ties of peo­ple from Auck­land or its sur­rounds, us­ing the beautifully con­structed wa­ter­front board­walk and you’re think­ing, “This re­ally is very spe­cial.” It’s the per­fect mix of hu­man en­ergy and nat­u­ral beauty. In this con­text, the al­ready very good food is el­e­vated. You can­not, in a place this beau­ti­ful, vi­brant and sur­pris­ing, sep­a­rate the food from its en­vi­ron­ment. This is what could and ar­guably should have hap­pened at the Viaduct or North Wharf. Never mind: it’s here now.


My wife had a cer­tain look on her face that I usu­ally miss but our wait­per­son did not. “What do you need from me?” she asked my wife: a re­ally won­der­ful phrase. My wife or­dered a cof­fee. The wait­per­son re­turned not just with the cof­fee but also with toys for our 1-year-old who had, by that point, gone rogue. That’s a high level of ser­vice. Given the turnover of hos­pi­tal­ity staff, par­tic­u­larly in the cafe world, it can feel point­less to as­sess the qual­ity of ser­vice but Fab­ric, as some­where still fairly new, needs to be judged on the bench­mark they’ve cre­ated, as a state­ment of where they in­tend to stay. The ra­tio of staff to pa­trons is high, pos­si­bly un­sus­tain­ably so, and they’re con­sis­tently ex­cel­lent, from the maitre d’s lead­er­ship down.

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